YouTube to charge for videos

SAN FRANCISCO • YouTube generates billions of dollars a year running advertisements in its vast repository of music, video game and how-to videos. Now the video site and its parent company, Google, are hoping users will be willing to pay for the privilege to watch the same videos without ads.

During a Wednesday event, YouTube executives introduced YouTube Red, a long-anticipated subscription service that will cost US$10 (S$13.90) a month for the same videos ad-free. The company simultaneously announced YouTube Originals, a slate of original programming that will be available only on the paid service.

A handful of new productions include Scare PewDiePie, a reality series made by Maker Studios and the producers of The Walking Dead, the popular television show about a zombie apocalypse. The series will star PewDiePie, a Swedish YouTube star whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, and show him encountering "terrifying situations inspired by his favourite video games".

In addition to YouTube originals, the service will include a roster of programming from big media companies such as 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and Time Warner that are already on the ad-supported version of YouTube.

"People are embracing paid subscriptions for ad-free content at an incredible pace," said Mr Robert Kyncl, the chief business officer of YouTube, who introduced the product on a stage at the YouTube Space in Los Angeles, a centre where people who post on YouTube can get, make and edit videos on professional equipment free.

He also noted that the number of advertisers running campaigns on YouTube is up 40 per cent over last year.

The service, which begins next week, will work across the original YouTube as well as YouTube's gaming app, its forthcoming music app and Google's Google Play music service.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2015, with the headline 'YouTube to charge for videos'. Print Edition | Subscribe